Breaking things up.

December 6, 2007 at 03:01 AM · Here I go again with a time issue. My elements are getting too long, and I need to work in generous focus on new elements at the same time. I 'can't' practice over three hours a night.

I need time to focus on what I'm learning about different scale bowings, elements I've learned from you all, and I've all but given up on pushing myself in my Suzuki program, though I'm still working on that--just more slowly..

Now the problem is this: I protect my basics program like a Ninja. So thus far, I've been working things Ron helped me with articulation into my existing exercises, including the things I've been working on with my new bow arm of late.

I just can't visualize neglecting 'any' of my virtuous moment(VMC) elements. To be honest, I need to keep this focus. I did rework my elements to alternate easy:hard for efficency (1/3's:bow pressure, legato:trills)

Maybe I'm just venting.

Replies (29)

December 6, 2007 at 04:04 AM · > I 'can't' practice over three hours a night.


December 6, 2007 at 04:10 AM · Greetings,

two quick points.

1) Whateevr practice you do , always spend at leats half of your time on making music rather than an excess of tehcnical work.

2) When I am working on tehcnique from a book like Drew`s for example, I have a clrealy worked out systems written in the margins. So on Monday`s I will do line one , Tuesdays, line two and so on. I also know that Monday will be g and d string. Tuesday d and a..

Finally, I know that for a period of a week I will center my technical work around a single finger pattern.

Using this kind of approaches helps one to cover everything but is sytsmatic.



December 6, 2007 at 04:20 AM · you people are WAY too serious.

use your gift of playing the violin as an enhancement for others to appreciate what can be accomplished with 4 strings and an attitude.

OK,there are many ways of approaching the violin and not that many on this site are professional players---MOST are students,as we all will continue to become in our quest to rise above mediocrity [sp.]

strive to become even more proficient in the nomenclature,while realizing that you inhabit the soul of an artist.

If you have any semblance of ability while playing,then others will notice;if you don't--then who cares------you care,because making music might be your 'hobby' AND no one can take it away from you.

In a way,its just an abstraction that leads to a world of profundity and enjoyment in a world that is lacking same.

December 6, 2007 at 04:46 AM · "1) Whateevr practice you do , always spend at leats half of your time on making music rather than an excess of tehcnical work."

That's a pretty good statement of the problem Buri. I need the technical, and I love the music. I'm holding this dam of music back beyond what I'm s'pose to be learning at the same time.

Tonight, I was able to go ahead and just start doing my scales in pattern bowings. (I'm getting the click exercise by the way) I think I may just have to continue to find creative ways to double up elements. Like when I do this little legato string crossings exercise I have, maybe start taking successive fingers off the bow for a few weeks. Or something.

I may also just have to sacrifice some things, until I a-bring several elements to the next level; and, b-add the three or four elements I'm thinking of.

The colle led speed exercise you shared is going well too. It's defining 'straight-draw' really effectively. Though it's very loud ;).

Thinking out loud,


December 6, 2007 at 05:04 AM · Joe--be certain--I easily get lost in the music. I spent the first eight months or so doing exactly that.

But, I have some goals, and I'm going after'm.

Worth repeating though--I can play, for hours.

December 6, 2007 at 05:05 AM · Greetings,

>you people are WAY too serious.

Who are you to tell people whether they are too serious or not? How do you even know -how- serious they are?

>use your gift of playing the violin as an enhancement for others to appreciate what can be accomplished with 4 strings and an attitude.

That is such a reductionist view of what most of here are trying to do it is barely worth bothering with. You think you can play in an orchestra, trio or do a recital with that?

>OK,there are many ways of approaching the violin and not that many on this site are professional players---MOST are students,as we all will continue to become in our quest to rise above mediocrity [sp.]

Actually a lot of professinoal, ex profesisonals and potenbtial pros frequent this site. Mixing it in with the trueism that we are -all studnets- blah blah doe s not lessen your comments inaccuracy.

It would be nice if you didn`t let your nice idea sabout art lead you into posting messages that deride, devalue and misunderstand the intent of this website. One can interfere with a good dialog with misplaced articulate eloquence just as easily as moronic four letter word commentary.

December 6, 2007 at 06:04 AM · OH Jesus.I'm so sorry I have not gone to MUSIC SCHOOL and not intelligent enough to EVEN READ a single note of your language which you have studied labourisly throughuout your lifetime.

BUT I CAN PLAY the violin !!!

I am abhorred when violinists cannot play UNLESS they have the notation in front of their eyes.

I play from my heart and have NEVER had a lesson !

And I play fairly good.

Many of your comments are well done,but I am from a different breed and I'm not ashamed to admit it !

There are many types of violin players in the world;DON'T CINSIDER YOURSELF as the pedagogue to your readers on this site.

Not everyone learns by the BOOK:some play by the heart and that,in my opinion,is the best way to play.

I'm at a loss for words now and I will NOT apoligize for what I havewritten,for to me it is the truth.

Don't get me wrong,I do care what you write--but to me it is meaningless.

We come from different schools maybe---you play from structured notations,whereas I play from experience and my soul.

I'm SURE you are accomplished on the violin BUT I am also !

Your wordiage may be more correct but I understand the musical language ,the language is in my blood--in my family--in my soul;that's how I play____I have no need for the books you have read;they mean nothing to me.

We are different players---you play from notations--I play from my heart...

There is a huge difference---you studied---I did'nt have to study anything to play the way that I do and bring a huge smile upon the listeners and to me making others happy is my job and I have done it well.

So study your galmation techniques from your books and study as much as you can but remember that others may be better than you and may rip you to pieces in a kitchen jam OR in an orchestral hall.

December 6, 2007 at 06:13 AM · >I'm at a loss for words now

Pity that couldn`t have happened sooner.

December 6, 2007 at 06:29 AM · So Buri, do you have a basic program, beyond your warm-ups? And, how would you layer new material into that program, if you had one.

Also--a generalization: how often do accomplished people revisit basics> I heard Sarah Chang I think, revisits 'all the time'--if it were not she, it was someone notable.

December 6, 2007 at 06:32 AM · Chisel your notations into stone.

Let us know when you are finished.

December 6, 2007 at 09:15 AM · Anyway, trying, to take this thread back, how do, you add new material and concepts to your program?

December 6, 2007 at 10:13 AM · If you're on your own, you kind of have to self-prescribe (which feels a bit like I imagine a doctor would feel handing himself prescriptions).

If you've ever designed your own training program, you first look at a specific time period with a goal at the end. You evaluate at your own strengths and weaknesses regarding your goal, then appoint specific exercises that will get you to your goal. Speaking athletically, you will always find physical limitations as to what you can accomplish during this time period, no matter what the duration. So you get an idea of your own limitations and then push yourself as hard as reasonably possible within these limitations.

As a musician, it might look like this:

You have a performance on such-and-such date. Something like a gig or a recital or an audition. And either the music is pre-selected, or you must decide what the music will be.

Then you figure out how much time you have. Three hours a day? How many weeks?

What new skills do you need between now and then? Be reasonable. Don't expect to become a virtuoso overnight. But pick something specific you'd like to improve.

Set aside X amount of time to improve each of your goals. If you spread yourself too thin, you probably won't achieve them, but if you spend all three hours each day on upbow spiccato, for example, you're being silly. So decide how dedicated you need to be to whichever task at hand, and then look for the smartest way to improve it, be it etude or some exercise in Basics. Do it every day, or every other day, alternating between that and some other completely different exercise.

The more I practice, the more I think it wise to alternate exercises that are developing new muscle groups because they may be tired the next day and you won't notice it, and eventually the fatigue will add up to either an injury or ...just plain fatigue. This is the main reason why breaking up your routine is a good idea. Physical fatige and mental staleness--bleh.

If you have too many goals, you won't excel with any of them. That's why you might consider having a top three list or something like that. Narrow it down and be specific, and put some of your ideas on the back burner for later. Maybe set a later date when you will begin those.

Then you give it a go, and sometimes you get to the goal just like you wanted to, and sometimes you hit a wall, and you have to reevaluate your strategy. Usually when this happens, it's because you failed to notice smaller, smarter steps you could take to get you where you wanted to go.

Right now, I'm not meeting goals, but it's because I'm slacking, plain and simple. If violin playing was like hiking, I'm probably eating lunch at a pretty lake right now. But I'm playing the Messiah in a week and a half, so I best be moving on...

December 6, 2007 at 08:34 PM · Can I just say that I really hate it when people consider music as a "hobby". My husband does that and it drives me crazy.

For those of us who have studied and went to school for music,( and for others ) it isn't a hobby.

Fishing and golfing are a hobby!

December 6, 2007 at 09:48 PM · "Evaluate"

Yep, that's exactly where I'm at Emily. And it isn't a wall I think. I think it's my internal clock saying time to move on with some things? Something like that?

Thanks Emily--your thoughts help me look at this with some new angles, though we are on the same page mostly. You just helped me craft a new-things/old things slot for 10 minutes a night.

I use to be really bad about just putting things in the que, and they would 'eventually' show up--new technical things etc., and I had to improve on that--uh, I'm going to have to improve again.

p.s. the environment where you live is so enriching, it's underwriting your music without you even knowing it I believe--seriously.

December 6, 2007 at 09:49 PM · Jodi, violin for me is a hobby--a very very intense hobby. But I feel ya. I did a lot of hobby house-cleaning to give myself a chance to do well on violin, because it truly just stole my heart, smacked my face, and made me like it.

I've become a lot more self-contained over the years, realizing that not very often in life, will others 'really' be there? So,... whatevah. I don't get involved in other's lives unless it's completely necessary, but, just be proud of yourself.

And in relation to my obsessing over technique, I learned after years playing by ear mostly, the power of etudes, exercises, scales, arpeggios, technique builders and some theory on piano, then guitar, then banjo. It's a huge amount of work up front, but in my mind, completely, necessary.

I have a friend, who is a true master, having gone the distance in formal studies. She says one sentence, and I spend a year on it.... As I said...

December 6, 2007 at 10:09 PM · Buri, you always crack me up! ;) Albert, your dedication inspires. Your questions and answers help lurkers like myself. My technique and articulation improvement would not have been quite as dramatic had it not been for this forum and the give and take of experience.

Not to mention the occasional horses a** that makes all of us chuckle.

December 6, 2007 at 10:23 PM · Thanks John.

December 6, 2007 at 10:45 PM · Greetings,

>So Buri, do you have a basic program, beyond your warm-ups? And, how would you layer new material into that program, if you had one.

Albert, I think as many peopel have mentioned the whole busines shas to be fitted into a long range structure. For example, I took ten year soff from the violin through injury and pusuing another career. Then when I foudn I couldn`t live without the insturment I decided to retrain with the five year goal of palyign the Beethoven cocnerto with an orchestra. Having set that gola I worked backwards figuring out where I would have to be and what I would nee dto be doing at every one yera stage prior to that. I then worked out monthly gols within that, weekly goals within that (in the first few months- not five years!) and within that context I wa sthen able to work out daily goals and within that practice goals for each sesison. By constantly rereading and reviewing this plan I was able to egt where I wanted to. However, certainly young players pre college or at college have no idea how little time they will have to do exactly what they want to dom musically once out on the profession. have been out there, but I am nothing like that now and still the denmand sare ridiculuous. This drives me nits because I woudl love to learn a few more cocnertos, allt he Bach solo sonatas, Paginin caprices blah blah. But yet anotehr orchestra gig comes up . Just heard last nifght the piano trio is in the final;s of some comeptition or other in Tkyo. No idea what it is. Have to ask the pianist....

So thats it. I have to shelve all my beautiful verisons of all the violin repertoire and make damn sure I casn play every note of Mahler 5 and teh Firebird. Most of the rest of the time is spent polsihing chamber music. Then I do about 6 recitals a year but that iis mainly old repertoire. I am lucky if i have time to add one new sonata and or showpiece.

So what this means is that the basics becomes central because they shoudl give you the tools to cope. It takes quite a mental adjustment to play the violin fronm scrtach if you are an adult I think. This wa son my miond the otehr day with a very gifted adult who has been palying for a couple of years and hasn`t quite gras@ped the idea @it is bette rto paly the violin first, than just leanr lots of pieces.` I struggled for some analogy which would mena somethign to her and eventually said soemthing like @You know when you strated the violin you started climbing a mountyian. Its a big challenge which one starts out fresh. Then as we take one step at a time it gets harder and the summit seems so far away and we see all thos epeopel ahead of us seemingly so comfortable. And then we reach the top (the music explodes) and we can see a beautiful sunrise. But the sunsets too and we go back down the mountain and start all over again the next day. thsi is true for anyone no matter how good. Its just the peaks get a little higher.`

So as for new material, its not that difficult for you I think. Just make sure you have a good ration of technique etudes and music making (especially with others.) Make sure the levels correlate. Try to link material. Following etude books systematically is fine but if you have a problem with a specific area why not be more exploratory? Integrate problems from your new pieces into your tehcncial work. Have external factors which keep you on track however much you wnat a break.

Is there more to it that this ?




December 6, 2007 at 11:21 PM · You tell em Joe! There is a place for all types of performers and many different methods to achieve the goal of choice.

Many performers learned and played from the heart, music that can take your breath away, and that will never stop.

I hope no one ever comes down on anyone prepared to make music to the best of their abilities. We have enough problems in this world

Spread the joy!

All the best


December 6, 2007 at 11:15 PM · Thanks Buri. You've reinforced my belief in basics. Sometimes, I just have to step back, because like, I had success with the articulation help, then the bow help, then sight reading. It truly dumbfounds me that I have been able to do this, at this point in life. Granted, I have a ways to go.

Bouncing ideas off here, you, Emily etc., gave me the tool I needed--a 10 minute time-slot to bring in new elements, or preferably as you suggested, to integrate them into existing elements. The click-exercise at first for example, will share a little time with colle. At least it's better than standing around worrying about what I forgot to work in..... This stresses me out--and you know, I've been here before as well? .

I discovered Mahler 5 a few years ago... Wow. And the music to Firebird, though it's been a lot of years, I think is what turned me on to Stravinsky.

It might've been The Rite of Spring--yes it was that. Anyway, I found both pretty awesome.

December 6, 2007 at 11:44 PM · Thanks for you remark Annabel. I basically agree with you in spirit, but this thread is about adding new technical material to busy programs.

I know many fine home-spun musicians, myself being a case in point in some ways, but again: this is about technical material.

December 7, 2007 at 12:55 AM · Hey Albert, something about what you mentioned in the opening of the thread just really struck home, which is why I wrote so much. When I go in for a session, I get these delusional ideas of trying to do the equivalent of trekking across the continent in a day. I want to tackle the whole thing at once, and I get so bogged down trying to do it all that I end up spending all my time working through the Kreuzer etudes, for example, and I go away feeling like I'm not sure what I accomplished.

There's just too many things to practice!

Hope you're not struggling too much with that.

December 7, 2007 at 01:01 AM · Greetings,

Emily, especially for advanced palyers such as yourself I think itvcan be really helpful to just pick one tehcnique from something like Basics or drew`s book and pracitce only that for a whole session. Do that fopr a couple of days. Its mind numbing but it has a very powerful effetc in bringing things back into focus and improving otehr tehcniques.

One of my favorite exercises is to play a tiny up bow at the heel , puase for a beat and play an up bow at the point. The concentration involved in not lettign the bow waver towards your head during the tranmsition is immense. After half an hour of that try playing one of your pieces. You might be very surprised.



December 7, 2007 at 02:54 AM · That's exactly it Emily, Buri.

My 20 elements (spiccato, upbow, vibrato..) take about 1:15, my scales arpeggios and etudes about 30, new material 30, old material 1:00, free style 1:00+ .... uh, generalizing.

December 7, 2007 at 03:27 AM · Greetings,

well, if you divided your twenty elemnts into four groups and played only two groups a day in soem kind of rotation you could cut down to half an hour on exercises which would help with any going stale problems you might have. One point to bear in midn I thinknis that the mind needs variety but it also needs time to assimilate what it is being given. Too much varied input might be counterproductibve in the long run.



December 7, 2007 at 03:51 AM · No doubt--I wasted about three months much earlier playing like a zombie--just getting through things.

December 7, 2007 at 04:08 AM · Sorry Albert, but my comment was not directed towards you, so no reply on your part was required.



December 7, 2007 at 04:31 AM · Oh, I understood perfectly. Thanks for your understanding.

December 7, 2007 at 09:37 AM · I was gonna tell you all what happened tonight, but I decided to blog about it.

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